History and Theory of Photography 2

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307EFVS2 ZK 2 4T anglicky letní

Garant předmětu

Jméno vyučujícího (jména vyučujících)

Výsledky učení dané vzdělávací složky

students will be introduced to the history of photography, media and visual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries and to the main contemporary historical and theoretical approaches in the field

Forma studia


Předpoklady a další požadavky


Obsah kurzu

  1. (12/02) Modernism and Modern Times (Josef Ledvina)

What was the attitude of modern art towards technological progress – to assembly line production, factory chimneys, aeroplanes, readymade goods, advertisement, popular magazines...? Positions were running on the scale between the enthusiastic affirmation of technological progress and its blanket rejection as of something threatening the very “essence of humanity”. In the center of our attention will be Bauhaus, touched will be also upon technopesimistic positions of some dadaists and expressionists.

Laszlo MOHOLY-NAGY, Painting, Photography, and Film, Cambridge MA: MIT Press 1967.

  1. (19/02) Surrealism and Image (Josef Ledvina)

The lecture will outline the history of the Surrealist movement and work

of its main protagonists and a the same time open some more general questions concerning nature of images and imagining. We will touch upon the topic of “internal images“ (dreams and hallucinatory imagery) and attempts at its pictorialization or the problematics of pareidolias that (especially from the surrealist point of view) productively complicate distinction between the inner and outer (or objective and subjective).

André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism”. In: Manifestoes of Surrealism. University of Michigan Press 1969, pp. 1–48.

  1. (26/02) Between Aestheticism and Propaganda (Josef Ledvina)

The lecture will deal with dynamic relations between art and politics at the beginning of 20th century and during the interwar period. At the center of our attention will be conflicting ideas of “pure art“ and art conceived as a tool of social change. Concepts of formalism, aestheticism, folk education and propaganda will be discussed together with paradigmatic examples of abstract art, political posters or magazine covers. Soviet avant-garde and subsequent enforcement of socialist realism doctrine will be covered in more detail, but we will also touch upon the question of (un)seriousness of declared political positions of some proponents of Dada movement.

Benjamin BUCHLOH, “From Faktura to Factography”. October, No. 30, fall 1983, pp. 83-119.

  1. (05/03) Documentary Photography and Photojournalism (Michal Šimůnek)

The lecture is conceived as a commented overview of the history of documentary photography and photojournalism. The commentaries are focused on the changing social, cultural and technological context determining assumptions about the meaning and purpose of documentary genres and stimulating different sorts of expectations from photographers and audiences. The first part of the lecture outlines the history of documentary genres since the half of 19th century until the end of 20th century. The second part is focused on some contemporary transformations of photo documentary tradition and on new digital forms of documentary photography and photojournalism.

William URICCHIO. „Things to come: the possible futures of documentary ... from a historical perspective.“ In: Judith Aston, Sandra Gaudenzi and Mandy Rose. i-DOCS. The Evolving Practices of Interactive Documentary. New York: A Wallflower Press 2017, pp. 191–205.

  1. (12/03) Vernacular Photography and Consumer Culture (Michal Šimůnek)

The lecture focuses on the vernacular (mainly family) photography, that is discussed in the perspective of selected concepts and approaches of cultural studies, semiotics, history, sociology and anthropology of photography. In the broader context of reflection on the relationship between consumer, popular and visual culture we are going to specify social functions and meanings of vernacular photography and explain how the family life is photographically depicted within historically shifting and mutually interacting discourses of consumer culture and advertising, studio photography, photojournalism, documentary photography, art and family life itself. The final part of the lecture focuses on the transformations of vernacular photography in contemporary digital culture.

Richard Lowell MacDONALD. “’Going Back in a Heartbeat’: Collective memory and the online circulation of family photographs.” Photographies 2015, 8:1, 23-42.

  1. (19/03) Photography in Conceptual Art (Hana Buddeus)

Lectures focus on the use of photography in conceptual art and performative arts and its particular aesthetic, defining in the face of tradition artistic photography. We will devote a part of the day to the canon of foreign artists (Ed Ruscha, Dan Graham and others) and their theory reviews (Jeff Wall, Nancy Foote), but shall also refer to related phenomena in Czech art (Pavel Vančát / Jan Freiberg: Photography??).

Jeff WALL, „Marks of Indifference: Aspects of Photography in, or, as, Conceptual Art“, in: Ann GOLDSTEIN and Anne RORIMER, Reconsidering the object of Art, 1965-1975, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art 1995, pp. 247-267.

  1. (26/03) History and Changes of Distribution of Photography (Václav Janoščík)In the lecture we will aim at characterizing the changes in the conception of art (modern art, modernism, postmedia art, contemporary art) as related to photography and the context of its distribution. The key element in this is going to be the history of exhibition making, but we will address other forms of distribution (of photographs) including contemporary condition marked by the internet.

Rosalind Krauss, “Notes on the Index (Part 1)”. In: Beyond Representation. pp. 196-200.

  1. (02/04) Photography as Postproduction (Václav Janoščík)

Within the framework of this topic we will grasp the most representative artist strategies using photography that are not necessarily bound to “taking pictures”. From the topic of manipulation, archive or appropriation we will gradually move towards postproduction as a distinctive understanding of art practice.

Nicolas Bourriaud, “Postproduction”. New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002. Read the Intorduction.

  1. (09/04) No lecture – Broumov
  2. (16/04) New Media and Photography (Tomáš Dvořák)

Lectures provide an overview and critical analysis of theory approaches to new media from the 1990s to the present with an emphasis on the changes in form and function of the photographic image. The lecture is devoted primarily to the shift from „realistic“ form representation, dominating the 20th century (photography, film, television, virtual reality) to technology prevailing today: databases, GPS system and data visualizations.

Jay David BOLTER - Richard GRUSIN, „Immediacy, Hypermediacy, Remediation.“ Remediation. Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 1999, pp. 20-50.

  1. (23/04) Problems with the Post-modern (Josef Ledvina)

Post-modernism represents an ambiguous concept whose particular content in small measure, is debated. Attempts to create a universal period category for artistic production of a given period (most often 70s and 80s), usually fails because of variation in individual or group „post-modern“ programs. Along with a introductory presentation of period discussions on post-modernism, lectures will be devoted, primarily, to theory-aware pieces of artists of the so called Pictures Generation (Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levin, Jack Goldstein, and others.), for whom photography was a key tool.

Douglas CRIMP, „The Photographic Activity of Postmodernism“, October, No. 15, winter 1980, pp. 91-101.

  1. (30/04) Artistic Research and Photography
  2. (07/05) Operative Images (Tomáš Dvořák)

The lecture will survey the shift from the technical image as representation to instrumental or operative images – images that autonomously pursue certain tasks. It will also pay attention to the convergence of the camera with other technologies and apparatus and to the shift from optical processes to digital computation (scanners, drones, satellites, computational photography, digital image processing, machine vision).

Joanna Zylinska, Nonhuman Photography. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 2017, pp. 13–50.

  1. (14/05) discussion of final essay themes (Josef Ledvina)

Doporučená nebo povinná literatura

see course contents

texts available at:


Hodnoticí metody a kritéria

The two main requirements for completing the course are:

attendance (you cannot miss more than 2 classes, in serious cases announced in advance, you may compensate for missing more lectures by another - typically written - assignment: this needs to be consulted beforehand with the lecturer)

turning in all required assignments (if you fail to submit only one of the presentations, your final grade is F):

1st written assignment: a critical analysis of a given scholarly text, 2-3 pages, deadline: 09 April 2018

2nd written assignment: final essay on a given topic, 5-10 pages, deadline: 28 May 2018

the exam will have the form of a discussion of both texts with the teacher


On alternate year for 1. and 2. class

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